The hats of a man may be many
In the course of a varied career,
And some have been worth not a penny
And some have been devilish dear;
But there’s one hat I always remember
When sitting alone by the fire.
In the depth of a Northern November,
Because it fulfilled my desire.
It was old, it was ragged and rotten
And many years out of mode,
Like a thing that a tramp had forgotten
And left at the side of a road.
The boughs of the mulga had torn it,
It’s ribbon was naught but lace,
And old swaggie would not have worn it
Without a sad smile on his face.
When I took off the hat to the ladies
It was rather with sorrow than swank,
And often I wished it in Hades
When the gesture drew only a blank;
But for swatting a fly on the tucker
Or lifting a quart from the fire
Or belting the ribs of a bucker
It was all that a man could desire.
When it ought to have gone to the cleaner’s
(And stayed there, as somebody said!)
It was handy for flogging the weaners
From the drafting-yard into the shed.
And oft it has served as a dish for
A kelpie in need of a drink;
It was all that a fellow could wish for
In many more ways than you’d think.
It was spotted and stained by the weather,
There was more than one hole in the crown,
And it made little difference whether
The rim was turned up or turned down.
It kept out the rain (in a fashion)
And kept off the sun (more or less),
Bt it merely comanded compassion
Considered as part of one’s dress.
Though it wasn’t a hat you would bolt with
Or be anxious to borrow or hire,
It was useful to blindfold a colt with
Or handle a bit of barbed wire.
Though the world may have thought it improper
To wear such old rubbish as that,
I’d have scorned the best London-made topper
In exchange for my old battered hat.